FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | February 6, 2008
Caregiver Magazine Urges Preventive Measures against Wandering, Falls, Abuse
Release Coincides with National and Local News on these Issues
NEW YORK, NY— When Elda Jackson of Fonthill, Ontario got a call from the police that her husband had tried to enter a house that he mistakenly thought was his own, she knew she had to take action. Her husband, LaVern, had gone missing several times since he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2004, but this time the situation had really gotten out of control.
“I was an absolute dishrag. I worked full-time, and I didn't have respite care. You can't be in two places at once,” said Jackson, who since has instituted various safety measures that offer some peace of mind.
Jackson's story is part of a special section in the winter 2008 issue of care AD vantage magazine on how to protect individuals with dementia. The section addresses strategies to prevent wandering, as well as ways to reduce falls and head off potential abuse by unethical caregivers.
care AD vantage is published quarterly by the Alzheimer's Foundation of America and is the nation's first magazine specifically written for caregivers of people with Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses. The magazine, now in its fourth year of publication, is available by free subscription to caregivers and distributed to doctors' offices, long-term care facilities, Kmart pharmacies and other venues. To subscribe, visit www.afacareadvantage.org or call 866-232-8484.
“We hear from caregivers all the time that safety is a monumental concern. There are risks that they deal with day to day, and strategies that may have worked one minute might not work the next due to the progression of Alzheimer's disease and behavior and cognitive changes,” said Eric J. Hall, president and chief executive officer of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America.
“Our goal through care AD vantage and AFA's other resources is to give families the best advice so they can make informed decisions to help protect their loved ones and themselves,” Hall added.
The special section, entitled “Playing it Safe,” overlaps with national and local news on these issues.
Coincidentally, the American Academy of Neurology yesterday published guidelines that urge clinicians to screen their patients with neurologic deficits or general conditions associated with an increased risk of falling and to consider appropriate interventions if substantial risks are identified. The report by the academy's quality standards subcommittee appeared in the February 5 issue of Neurology, the academy's official journal.
On another safety issue, also yesterday, it was reported that the body of an 83-year-old patient who had Alzheimer's disease was found less than a mile from the hospital in Merrillville, IL where she apparently left her room the night before.
It was the latest in a constant string of media headlines around the country about individuals with Alzheimer's disease who become lost. Approximately 60 percent of those with the brain disorder wander during the progression of the illness, and face a 50 percent chance of death if not found within the first 24 hours.
In care AD vantage, experts offer this advice to play it safe:
- On wandering—Look for clues that the person might wander, such as inability to recognize one's own home; secure the environment, like camouflaging doors, installing motion detectors and hiding a person's coat or other essential belongings; outfit the person with an identification bracelet and enroll in a tracking program; and have the person's photo and other vital information at hand. If a person does become lost, act fast—quickly search the home and then call law enforcement.
- On falls—Check for dangers that frequently cause slips, trips or falls, especially in common trouble spots like pathways, lighting, floor surfaces, furnishings and bathrooms. Once a hazard is identified, keep modifications simple and to a minimum to reduce disruption to individuals with Alzheimer's disease.
- On abuse—Carefully screen potential caregivers, including examining criminal records, prior employment and references, and then observe the situation once the employee or volunteer comes on board. The warning holds true whether caregivers are found via agencies or the so-called gray market, and whether they are family, friends or strangers.
Currently, it is estimated that more than five million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, and the incidence is expected to triple by mid-century. Alzheimer's disease, which causes loss of memory and other cognitive functions, is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
The Alzheimer's Foundation of America is a national nonprofit organization headquartered in New York and made up of hundreds of member organizations that provide hands-on programs to meet the educational, emotional, practical and social needs of families affected by Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses. AFA's services include a toll-free helpline, counseling, educational materials, a free caregiver magazine, and professional training. For information, call (Toll-Free Helpline) 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org .
Contact: Carol Steinberg